This is my (in)activity log. You might like to visit
Productivity a subsidiary of Collabora focusing on LibreOffice support and
services for whom I work.
Also if you have the time to read this sort of stuff you could enlighten
yourself by going to Unraveling Wittgenstein's net or if
you are feeling objectionable perhaps here. Failing that, there are all manner of interesting things to read on
the LibreOffice Planet news
Stuff Michael Meeks is doing
ownCloud conference, met another set of interesting
people and caught up with the new OCIS, Phoenix developers.
More work on slides in the morning, headed back
to the conference.
Up late .
Up earlyish, train to Nurnberg, arrived in Nbg. Headed
to the ownCloud conference, caught up with some customers, Holger,
Thomas and many more. Found my (nice) AirBnB - and to the Brauhaus
in the evening. Back, up late writing slides & drawing pictures.
Up earlyish, train to Nurnberg. Really disappointed to see
- I've seen Richard at a number of conferences, and I'm
personally not a fan of his liberal approach to intimacy. I
might be inclined to warn women of the risk of being
propositioned by him in advance (arguably his door-plate is
a strong hint). However, I'm aware that attitudes to this
topic ebb & flow in the culture.
- I can only believe that RMS' E-mail defence of Minsky
is based on knowing him personally, his character and ethics,
and preferring to believe he would not knowingly force
himself on an unwilling minor. I would hope that my friends
might defend my character posthumously.
- I fear there is a deeply worrying, 'lynch mob'
mentality about this, where truth is de-emphasized in favour
of outrage, in an attempt to right a wrong.
- That is understandable, given the outrageous nature
of the Epstein allegations, it sounds horrific
from many perspectives.
- indeed - it's pretty horrible to have to
dissect this, the reports are deeply
troubling, but worth engaging with.
- I applaud those members of the police &
judiciary bringing justice to bear, and regret
that Epstein's death robbed many of the chance
to see him answer his accusers & to open
the box, see justice done & learn
valuable lessons from the experience.
- I rejoice to see justice done. Unfortunately
rushing to judgement on RMS's comments seems
unjust to me.
- From the perspective of wanting to try to tell the
truth, I find it troubling to see people I otherwise
respect linking to and promoting articles that they know
mis-characterise what RMS said. I suspect that this is done in
order to stir outage and drive just such a rush to judgment.
- My feeble attempts to understand the sorry facts of the matter
follow. You can read the text shorn of the Verge's misleading commentary
- I guess the core of the most distorted section is this from RMS:
"We can imagine many scenarios, but the most plausible
scenario is that she presented herself to him [Minsky] as entirely
willing. Assuming she was being coerced by Epstein, he
would have every reason to tell her to conceal that from
most of his associates."
- The description "presented ... as" has a clear, but
slightly unusual meaning - which in context can be explained
as: "it looked like X (to Minsky) when it was really Y". How
you present - is what you seem to be from the outside. That is
perhaps most clear to English speakers.
- So - apparently RMS' argument is that intention is
important and absent perfect knowledge, there could
be different perspectives on the same (reprehensible) act.
- From my perspective - that such intimacy belongs
exclusively to marriage - I'd want to avoid all these
problems with a ceremony, vows before
God, explicit consent from both parties, who know
each other well & are best friends, ideally in
front of a large number of approving and celebrating
witnesses before consumation. Oh, and a giant party to
celebrate the goodness of it all !
- However - it is not a surprise to me that this is a
minority view. I hear there are many 'apps' to
facilitate transient, shallow and commitment free,
superficial couplings of a duration of minutes.
This sort of promiscuous interaction seems unfortunate
and particularly open to the possibility of
mis-interpretation in twisted circumstances.
- So then we come to the reporting:
- Lets start with the misleading
Vice article - linked by Matthew & Niall. The inflated headline is:
"Famed Computer Scientist Richard Stallman Described Epstein Victims
As 'Entirely Willing'" - by Edward Ongweso Jr. The problem is that RMS
did not even describe a single one of Epstein's victims as entirely willing.
Indeed his next sentence says "Assuming she was being coerced".
The nuance of multiple perspectives and ignorance of the situation ie.
"presented as" is elided.
- The misleading Daily Beast "Renowned MIT Scientist Defends Epstein: Victims Were 'Entirely Willing'" - Blake Montgommery seems rather similar but adds a (missing) defence of Epstein.
- The misleading Tech Crunch: "Computer scientist Richard Stallman, who defended Jeffrey Epstein, resigns from MIT CSAIL and the Free Software Foundation" - Catherine Shu - picks up the previous accusation that now appears to bear no relation to the E-mail thread.
- Interestingly, the initial polemical blog - "Remove Richard Stallman" - Selam G. - is more accurate and helpfully contexualized than much of the rest of the media. An encouraging take on direct reporting. Even the text that sounds like the lynch mob's charter: "he didn't even give the typical, whiney, he's accused but not convicted defense." is moderated by the fact that being dead, Minsky can never be tried in a fair process - which is admittedly deeply unsatisfying.
- So as a preliminary conclusion - accusation inflation transparently exists, and is a real concern. I believe this was at the core of RMS' initial point in regard to Minsky.
- In another forum Slashdot reports: "Richard Stallman Challenges 'Misleading' Coverage of His Comments on Marvin Minsky" - EditorDavid.
RMS: The coverage totally
mischaracterised my statements. Headlines say
that I defended Epstein. Nothing could be
further from the truth. I've called him a
"serial rapist", and said he deserved to be
imprisoned. But many people now believe I
defended him -- and other inaccurate claims --
and feel a real hurt because of what they
believe I said.
- Some personal conclusions
- Whether you agree with his principles and ethics or not, RMS is
a principled old man - who seems to have been forced to step down
to avoid damage to the institutions he loved: MIT & FSF.
Please respect his work, and his amazing achievement and legacy.
- Where I agree with mjg59 is that all our (human) heros are
flawed, and wouldn't it be nice not to have figureheads. Where I
disagree is with the reality of PR, and (self-)promotion: such
figures arise from re-inforcement effects anyway, fame breeds
fame, as any D-list celebrity will tell you.
- Beware: the mob is a fickle friend - I fear adding my small
voice in support of RMS. Does doing so make me a rape-apologist-apologist
in the inflated lexicon of our time.
- I had hoped that when the similar stoning of Brendan Eich
occurred - that it was just blameless, conservative Christians
that would be aggressively excluded from the FLOSS community
(cheered on by a similar set). Now it seems that bumbling
hippies are also unwelcome; who is next ?
- It is vital that misbehavior and abuse is caught and corrected,
and that victims are willing to speak out. However, it is also
important that "Work hard and you will do well" continues
to be a foundation of what we do. Aggressive feminism should not
be a necessary pre-requisite for success in our community.
We do owe a duty to those who have put so much in, to give the
benefit of the doubt, and listen carefully to what they are
actually saying even if we disagree.
- It seems an unfortunate thing for some to be criticizing RMS
for making the FSF look bad, while simultaneously spreading the
very unbalanced reports that exacerbate the problem they
complain of. That is not a plea for secrecy - but for fair
- Finally we need a way to retard lynch mobs. Where is the
noble sheriff who stands in front of the slavering pack with a
shotgun and risks his life to make sure that due process is
followed ? What does due process even look like ? What can
organizations do to bring balance and ensure all perspective
are heard ? cooling off periods before accepting a
resignation ? polling their communities ? who can say ?
Perhaps my thoughts make you angry; perhaps you feel that
defending an old man, standing up for his dead colleague is
insensitive to the many victims of Epstein. Perhaps the
larger problems you see are so bad, you just want to see
blood regardless of whose it is; that is understandable.
However, just possibly it is worth reflecting as
to whether you are transferring your righteous anger and
desire for justice in the Epstein case, to attack someone
else for something very different.
Finally, this blog is a hostage to fortune; it is possible
(but unlikely) that RMS is not a harmless sort but a scheming
criminal mastermind. Still, one can only work with the
evidence as it is presented at the time.
Update: 2019-09-18 (late) A postscript: Thomas Bushnell's
reflections seem aposite; and somewhat sensitive.
Update: 2019-09-19 Thorsten posted his
take here; I too have to agree that RMS " ... held views
incompatible with broad societal norms & ethics”, as well as
lots of views I dislike. It should also be clear that neither
Thorsten nor I speak for TDF on this topic.
Off to the Park Inn for the Nextcloud Enterprise Day.
Fun. Finished slides and gave a Enterprisey presentation -
talked to a large number of friends & colleagues. Dinner late.
Something of a lie-in, off to the TU Berlin; nice to
be at the Nextcloud conference and to meet lots of old friends
and colleagues. Finished lightning talk slides over lunch
and gave them to Nina.
Caught up with Frank & Thomas, played VR and
enthused about Monado, got Pizza for the hackfest in, back
to bed rather late.
Up early, bid more 'byes; coach with Tor & Kendy to
Malaga, worked in the airport on estimation & planning, as
well as tile joining.
There is surely some irony embedded in the outrage at
RMS' suggestion that accusation inflation exists and can be damaging.
The escalating gap between what RMS is accused of, and
what (as far as can be told) he actually wrote looks like a great
example of exactly that.
Argument by outrage, with a spirit of vindictive intolerance
seems to be the fashionable bigotry of the day. Luckily I don't
look to RMS for ethical statements on sexuality to try to live by,
but try: this
instead. In general, promiscuity seems ethically troubling, as well
as a meagre subsitute for a healthy marriage filled with love &
mutual respect. However, I'm still rather interested in RMS'
views on software freedom - despite being more persuaded by Gerv's
Cultural Analysis of the Free Software movement.
Lots of conference hallway track conversations.
Fine tour of the beautiful Almeria fortress & dramatized
reading by our team. Tapas & bed late having bid 'bye to
many friends & colleagues. Packed luggage.
To the conference, enjoyed some talks variously,
gave one on web copy/paste - lots of good content.
Pleased to see a DiD survivor being believed (traumatic).
Hackfest in the evening.
Opening keynotes, lunch;
Gave an ecosystem talk:
Caught up with lots of old friends, colleagues & community
members. Let people play with the Oculus Quest, need to
get ALVR setup to show off Monado's goodness.
Rain in Almeria in the afternoon / evening - got
to a fine beach party and had a good time back late, sleep.
Breakfast, bus to a piece of beautiful coastline
nearby with our partners & the Collabora team. Walked
and admired the wind / sea erosion, views, a fort.
Back to the beach for snorkelling, before heading
back for a fine lunch & partner event with the team.
In-person team meeting afterwards - more questions in
Event, drinks & so on until late in
the evening, worked on slides with Kendy until very late,
enjoying intermittent fire(?)-alarms.
Breakfast, Board meeting all day with dinner in the
evening, started badly & got better.
Played at AllSaints in the morning; off to
the train, met Simon on our packed BA flight. Got
a few slides sorted out. Arrived, met friends &
Slugged, played Moss a little, enjoyed time
with the family - bit of work; mended the lawn-mower
(apparently nothing wrong with it), and re-ground the
blades. Worked with J. a bit. Movie with the littlies
in the evening.
Copy/paste slide work; partner bits, calls.
Mail; fixed some unit tests and build errors of Online across a brace
of legacy platforms. Interview, built slides for conference, up late tweaking
My content in this blog and associated images / data under
data/ directories are (usually)
created by me and (unless obviously labelled otherwise) are licensed under
the public domain, and/or if that doesn't float your boat a CC0
license. I encourage linking back (of course) to help people decide for
themselves, in context, in the battle for ideas, and I love fixes /
improvements / corrections by private mail.
In case it's not painfully obvious: the reflections reflected here are my
own; mine, all mine ! and don't reflect the views of Collabora, SUSE,
Novell, The Document Foundation, Spaghetti Hurlers (International),
or anyone else.
It's also important to realise that I'm not in on the Swedish Conspiracy.
Occasionally people ask for formal photos for conferences
Michael Meeks (firstname.lastname@example.org)